The Fence: National Security, Public Safety, and Illegal Immigration along the U.S.-Mexico Border

The Fence: National Security, Public Safety, and Illegal Immigration along the U.S.-Mexico Border

by Robert Lee Maril


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The Fence: National Security, Public Safety, and Illegal Immigration along the U.S.-Mexico Border by Robert Lee Maril

To the American public it’s a 2,000-mile-long project to keep illegal immigrants, narcotics, and terrorists on the other side of the U.S.–Mexico border. In the deserts of Arizona, it’s a “virtual fence” of high-tech electronic sensors, cameras, and radar. In some border stretches it’s a huge concrete-and-steel wall; in others it’s a series of solitary posts designed to stop drug runners; in still others it’s rusted barbed-wire cattle fences. For two-thirds of the international boundary it’s nonexistent. Just what is this entity known as “the fence”? And more important, is it working? Through first-person interviews with defense contractors, border residents, American military, Minutemen, county officials, Customs and Border Protection agents, environmental activists, and others whose voices have never been heard, Robert Lee Maril examines the project’s human and financial costs. Along with Maril’s site visits, his rigorous analysis of government documents from 1999 to the present uncovers fiscal mismanagement by Congress, wasteful defense contracts, and unkept political promises. As drug violence mounts in border cities and increasing numbers of illegal migrants die from heat exhaustion in the Arizona desert, Maril argues how the fence may even be making an incendiary situation worse. Avoiding preconceived conclusions, he proposes new public policies that take into consideration human issues, political negotiation, and the need for compromise. Maril’s lucid study shows the fence to be a symbol in concrete, steel, microchips, and fiber optics for the crucible of contemporary immigration policy, national security, and public safety.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780896727762
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Publication date: 10/25/2012
Edition description: 1
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Robert Lee Maril is professor of sociology and the founding director of the Center for Diversity and Inequality Research at East Carolina University. The author of many books, including Patrolling Chaos: The U.S. Border Patrol in Deep South Texas (TTUP, 2006) and Waltzing with the Ghost of Tom Joad: Poverty, Myth, and Low-Wage Labor in Oklahoma, he has testified three times on his research before the U.S. Congress, and his work has been widely cited both in scholarly publications and the national media. A resident of the Texas borderlands for seventeen years, he now lives in Greenville, North Carolina.

Table of Contents

Illustrations xi

Part 1 A Virtual American Dream

1 A Simple Solution 3

2 Manny's Disguise isn't One 24

3 Anzalduas 38

4 Olga Rivera Garcia's Fence and Omar Sanchez's Fence 60

5 ISIS 88

6 Dubuque 111

Part 2 Crossing to Safety

7 More Virtual Fences 135

8 CBP Agent Nora Muñoz 179

9 Juliet Garcia's Fence and Michael Chertoff's Wall 198

10 Three Different Walls 230

11 It's Getting Crowded along the Border 258

12 Crossing to Safety 279

Epilogue 301

Notes 309

Bibliography 341

Acknowledgments 353

Index 355

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